Dealing with anger

You may have read my “Shoes A-flyin” post already.   I have found that when I physically touch my children to get them to DO something, it kicks their anger up about 50 notches.

But here’s the thing – I am a ‘do it now, do it quick, get it over with’ type of person.  Living with children is a serious challenge to someone like me.  Whether autistic or not, children have this way of moving slower than molasses in January when they don’t want to obey.

She doesn’t move quickly to finish picking up her toys, so I hand over hand ‘help’ her move quicker.  He doesn’t move quickly enough to get to the car, so I help run him out there.  She doesn’t want to get up and sits there just looking at me, refusing to budge, so I reach down and MAKE her move. (Note:  I’m not talking about beating the kids up or anything, just taking their arm or hand or shoulders and giving them a gentle leading towards where I need them to move to).

These things all backfire.  I’m so stupid sometimes!  I know without a shadow of a doubt that forcing the children – especially the autistic spectrum ones – to do things by touching them in some way (she won’t go to the left, so I block the right hallway with my body and physically make her go to the left) just doesn’t work.  It usually makes the children mad, causes them to resist, and ends up in a battle that is just not worth the fight!

Why can’t I remember that?

They use the ‘stall’ tactic and know it pushes my buttons!  Each of them knows that when I say go, I want them to go NOW.  They all know that they can stall and it will punish me…

When Rosalie refuses to take her medicine, there is nothing I can physically do to make her take that medicine.  When she sits on the floor and refuses to get up and clean the mess, I jump all over that!  Ah HA!  I can pick her up and hand-over-hand make her do the job.

NO.  That doesn’t work.  It just makes her angry.  It makes me angry too.  Because I know she will go dead-weight (and that’s not pretty at nearly 70 lbs!) and I can’t handle that.  And she will resist.  And she will kick, scream, spit.  You get the picture.  Pretty soon it’s a knock down drag out battle of wills.  Ugly.  Very ugly.

So what do you do?  Well, I’ve learned that when she sits there and refuses to clean up her room, for instance, I have a few choices.  I can state my directions very clearly.  I can give her one of two choices (like “which would you like to do first: pick up the shoes or the laundry?”) but she’s no dummy.  She understands that she’s still being told to clean up the room.  And she sits there and refuses to say which one she will do.  So I can then say “OK, you can pick up the shoes first” and I stand there and point to the shoes.  What is the hardest part for me is the waiting.  The silent waiting, where I’ve just given her the direct instruction and I’m standing there pointing to what I expect her to do.  And I stand there waiting.  Looking like a statue.  A big, dumb statue.  Waiting…  and waiting.

That almost always works, IF I have the patience to wait her out.

But if not, I can always do the last step, which is where I say “If you do not pick up the shoes you will sit in a time out for 7 minutes”.  Now this is where it gets interesting.  She has already at this point been sitting, refusing to move, for probably 7 or 10 minutes!  But tell her she’s going to get an official time out, and she starts screaming, spitting, kicking.  But usually after the pointing finger, she gets up slowly and goes to put the shoes away.

That is not to say that she does it in a cheerful manner.  There is usually some screaming, and kicking whatever is in her way, and maybe swatting at whatever she can swat at – whether a person, something on a table, or a door to shove.

How does one go about getting the child on the spectrum to do something in a cheerful manner?  I’ve given up. Completely.  Am I allowed to say that?  Who knows, but it’s true, I admit it.  You can train it into young children, really you can.  Or so they tell me.  But with these spectrum children it is so elusive – the miffed compliance is about the best I get on most days (at least with my more severely affected child).

Of course all this is about THEIR anger.  We won’t go into the days when I’ve got anger issues.  *sigh*

Dear Lord,

Our world is so screwed up.  I get angry, the kids get angry.  I pray for patience but all I get is trial after trial to help me learn to grow that patience.  I have to admit I get discouraged.  I don’t know what to do half the time.  Please enlighten me – raising children, especially with challenges, is so hard.  I don’t know what to do, I’m not an expert.  I am in awe that you would choose me to parent these children.  I can’t imagine why, but you know best so I’m just going to have to depend on your wisdom.  Give me the peace to combat the anger, the wisdom to know how to deal with the children when they don’t obey, and the stamina to keep going.

Thanks God – you’re wonderful!


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